She has been a Catholic for about two decades, and is one of the most devout women in her parish. A regular Holy Communion communicant, Magdalene (not her real name), is happily married and also active in her community. Committing her time, talents and treasures in the service of God and her neighbor. Her faith … incredible!
“I lived a horrible life in the past. I was proud, lustful, and unhappy but God saved me”, she told the audience who were rapt in deep attention, listening to her story.
Born in an ungodly family in one of the North American countries, her dad forbade her from having Christians as friends or going to church. She was her father’s
darling and adored him. The dad was wealthy and she wouldn’t want to mess with
him, knowing she could lose out on family inheritance. Moreover, she didn’t care much concerning the “whole thing about faith and Christian morality.” She wanted to live her life freely and not be bothered by any standards “limiting” her freedom.
As a teen, she made her choice. “I want to live in the United States, the land of freedom and dreams to enjoy my life and maximize my potentials”, she had disclosed to her father. In order not to lose her to meaningless piety (so it seemed to her dad) of the religious nuns who taught in one of the local schools and who would, from time to time, chat with her to his distaste, she was obliged to migrate to the United Sates of America. This was considered a win-win situation to both her and her dad. She wanted to enjoy life, free from the daily monitoring of her father (her dad didn’t know this), and everyone else’s (including those laidback nuns who taught at her school). For her dad, America was the best fit so she could see life broader and be a freethinker.
The relocation to the US was fun, but only for a time. She was studious and took her academics serious, landing a good job after graduation, way ahead of many of her peers. Her self-esteem was very high. Shoulder high, she enjoyed every iota of pleasure she could afford. No violations of any state laws or work-related policies, no excessive depravity, just the usual stuff, it seemed to her; wining and dining, and sexual gratifications. “If you can afford it, go for it”, she firmly believed. By mistake, as they say, she became pregnant. She didn’t want the baby, not because she was ashamed – not her concern since all in her circle cared less. She decided to abort because she didn’t want to shoulder the responsibility of taking care of a baby.
Walking out of the abortion clinic after a successful abortion, reality set it. She felt sadness, anxiety and worries like never before. Guilt was strong and real. She was completely in moral rags. In her heart, there was a palpable conviction she had done something really horrible, terribly wrong. Her life wouldn’t be the same again. This caused her sleepless nights, climaxing in deep depression. A new search has begun – the search for inner peace.
For close to a decade she was searching. Her controlling temperament set limits to where she could go, and from whom she could receive advice. The person must be pristine, not one of “those”, she resolved. About where to go, some institutions were tabooed. Therefore she tried Yoga, travels to exotic, quiet new-age-style retreat centers or islands. No peace came, happiness seemed far-fetched. Finally, she decided to lift the ban, any Christian church will do provided it wasn’t a Catholic Church. “One faithful day, I was so disoriented I wanted to kill myself. I managed to enter my car and drive with no destination in mind. I wanted to drive to any church but never a Catholic church.”
Thus, any church, which had a look of a Catholic Church, was avoided. Finally, she saw a building that looked like a non-denominational or Pentecostal church. “The looks tell it all”, she said, “definitely this isn’t a Catholic Church.” She will enter and ask the pastor to hear her confession or something like that (she wasn’t thinking of the Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation) and have the bitterness and guilt of her abortion off her heart.
Like a bi-polar teen run amok, she dashed into the church. The minister was about to begin the “service.” Her eyes were still beclouded she couldn’t notice it was a Catholic priest and the service, the Mass. Her guilt was too much; she couldn’t see beyond her nose. She simply grabbed the minster and the words jumped out of her mouth, “Can you hear my confession?”
The priest who was already vested and ready to begin Mass was taken aback. “Can I do so right after Mass because the Church is assembled for Mass and I should begin the procession?” It was then it dawned on her she had been led to a Catholic Church. She looked around and saw the Church packed; many people inside were calm, gentle and praying. The cantor singing a joyful song to the Lord and many who knew the song sang along. She felt peace outside but not inside of her. Would she surrender her will so cheaply…?
“Never mind”, she replied to the priest. She didn’t want a priest. “A Catholic priest, a Catholic Church? Never!” The priest held her hands as she was about to leave, and said to her, “You are not leaving. I will hear your confession.” He stopped the procession, stepped aside by a private space and heard her confession. “That changed everything for me. Joy filled my heart and has ever since. That was how the Lord brought me to peace and happiness”, she said, tears of joy dripping from her eyes.
“Wow!”, many exclaimed, “God is good.”